Giants WR Malik Nabers Sarah Stier/Getty Images

2024 Stat Predictions for NFL's Top Rookie Wide Receivers

Maurice Moton

The 2024 wide receiver class generated quite a buzz, and 11 wideouts heard their names called within the first two rounds. The top receivers in this year's class could outproduce the top picks from last year's group.

In 2023, eight receivers entered the league as first- or second-rounders. Among them, five registered more than 50 catches and 500-plus receiving yards. Jordan Addison led that group in touchdown receptions with 10.

How will the top rookie wideouts fit into their team's offense and what's the ceiling for each player's receiving numbers in the upcoming season?

A wideout's skill set, projected role, quarterback and his team's play-caller factored into our stat predictions below.

Which receiver is primed for a big rookie year? Who's going to struggle in their current situation?

Let's break down the top first-year targets and their supporting casts.

Marvin Harrison Jr., Arizona Cardinals

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Fanatics has filed a lawsuit against Marvin Harrison Jr. for breach of contract, but that shouldn't impact his role or production on the field.

Without a doubt, Harrison will be the Arizona Cardinals' lead wideout in Week 1. He's the most polished rookie in the class with his silky smooth route-running and ability to make tough catches.

The Cardinals allowed Marquise Brown to walk in free agency, and they traded Rondale Moore to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for backup quarterback Desmond Ridder.

As a result, Harrison won't compete with an established veteran for targets.

Among the holdovers from the previous season, second-year pro Michael Wilson and Greg Dortch will complement Harrison as secondary options at wide receiver.

Behind Harrison, tight end Trey McBride will probably be the No. 2 pass-catcher in the offense because of his strong rapport with Kyler Murray.

Murray hasn't thrown for 4,000-plus yards in a season, but he played with an older Larry Fitzgerald and A.J. Green, who was past his prime.

DeAndre Hopkins caught 115 passes for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns in his first year (2020) with the Cardinals and missed significant time because of injuries and a performance-enhancing drug suspension in the following two seasons.

This year, Murray will play with arguably the best receiver in the 2024 class, and his connection with Harrison will uplift the Cardinals offense.

With a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback under center in Arizona, Harrison could break Puka Nacua's rookie receiving records.

Stat prediction: 108 receptions, 1,511 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns

Malik Nabers, New York Giants

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In the right situation, Malik Nabers could be a versatile explosive playmaker who uses his speed to beat defenders on deep throws and add yards after the catch.

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll spoke on Nabers' skill set while at organized team activities.

"He's athletic; he's quick; he's explosive; he has very good hands; he's got good awareness; (and) he's got flexibility to play inside and outside," Daboll said to reporters.

Nabers could struggle through his rookie year with the Giants, though. That said, his slow career start may say more about quarterback Daniel Jones than him.

Jones has thrown for 3,000-plus yards in two out of his five seasons. Moreover, he's recorded fewer than 24 touchdown passes in each of his last four years while missing extended time during the 2021 and 2023 campaigns.

Furthermore, the Giants haven't had a wideout finish the season with 1,000-plus receiving yards since Odell Beckham Jr. did it in 2018. So, the team's recent history isn't on Nabers' side either.

Nabers should get a lot of looks in the passing offense, and he could lead the class in targets if tight end Darren Waller retires or the team trades wideout Darius Slayton, who wants a new contract.

However, Nabers doesn't have a quarterback who will help him blow the top off a defense or score touchdowns in bunches.

Stat prediction: 61 receptions, 836 yards, 4 touchdowns

Rome Odunze, Chicago Bears

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Unlike Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze will have strong competition for targets.

The Chicago Bears have a lead receiver in DJ Moore, and they acquired six-time Pro Bowler Keenan Allen several weeks before the 2024 draft.

The Bears have one of the league's top wide receiver trios, which will take a lot of pressure off Odunze to become a primary option in the passing game.

Chicago also has a couple of pass-catching tight ends in Cole Kmet, who recorded career highs in catches and receiving yards last season, and Gerald Everett.

In addition, according to running backs coach Chad Morton, the team is "excited" about using D'Andre Swift in the passing game.

Odunze could be one of several cogs in a much-improved passing attack led by rookie quarterback Caleb Williams, but he could post feast-or-famine stat lines in his first year with so many other viable pass-catchers around him.

Stat prediction: 52 receptions for 643 yards, 5 touchdowns

Brian Thomas Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

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This offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars have reshaped their wide receiver room. They let Calvin Ridley walk in free agency and released Zay Jones, making room for Gabe Davis and Brian Thomas Jr.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has a solid group of pass-catchers with wideout Christian Kirk and two-time Pro Bowl tight end Evan Engram likely holding on to prominent roles, but the Jaguars struggled with efficiency in the passing game last year.

In 2023, Jacksonville fielded the ninth-ranked passing offense but finished 21st in touchdowns through the air. Lawrence threw for 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

At 6'2", 209 pounds with 4.33-second speed, Thomas could be a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver, but Kirk and Engram have a strong rapport with Lawrence that dates back to 2022.

Also, if Lawrence turns the ball over at a high rate again, head coach Doug Pederson could go conservative and feed the ball to running backs Travis Etienne Jr. and Tank Bigsby on the ground.

At the very least, Thomas will have a few flashes in the deep passing game and have red-zone opportunities to put points on the scoreboard.

Stat prediction: 37 receptions, 525 yards, 5 touchdowns

Xavier Worthy, Kansas City Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs moved up a few spots in the first round to take Xavier Worthy with the No. 28 pick in the draft, which suggests that the team likely has an immediate plan for him.

Worthy recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time in NFL combine history at 4.21 seconds.

Head coach Andy Reid's play-calling wizardry can turn a speedy receiver into an elite playmaker; we saw that during Tyreek Hill's time with the Chiefs.

Worthy doesn't have to be Hill or the Chiefs' top pass-catcher, though.

Since Kansas City traded Hill to the Miami Dolphins, four-time All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce has been the go-to option in the passing game.

Last year, wideout Rashee Rice led the Chiefs in touchdown receptions with seven.

However, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the team expects the league to suspend Rice for multiple games because of his alleged involvement in a Dallas car crash.

Even if Rice misses several games, Worthy will likely be the No. 2 wideout behind Marquise Brown, whom the team signed in free agency.

Coming into the league as the first wideout selected in the 2019 draft, Brown has several years of starting experience and has caught quarterback Patrick Mahomes' attention with his route-running.

Worthy tweaked his hamstring during an OTA practice. Kansas City may slowly bring the 5'11", 165-pound receiver along early in the season, though he's capable of big plays because of his speed and potential opportunities while Rice serves a suspension.

Stat prediction: 54 receptions, 736 yards, 3 touchdowns

Ricky Pearsall, San Francisco 49ers

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While in a contract dispute with wideout Brandon Aiyuk, the San Francisco 49ers made a practical selection with the No. 31 pick in the draft, taking Ricky Pearsall.

General manager John Lynch wants to retain Aiyuk, though the two sides have yet to reach an agreement on an extension.

Aiyuk and fellow wide receiver Jauan Jennings have skipped 49ers' OTAs as they seek new deals.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters that Pearsall can benefit from soaking up more reps while Aiyuk and Jennings skip OTAs.

"Yeah, I always think the more reps you get, the more experience you get, the more different situations you can be put in," Shanahan said in a press conference Tuesday. "I mean, if you're talented enough and made of the right stuff, you only get better. But sometimes it's hard to generate those things, especially in a practice when it's not full speed all the time and things like that. So the more reps you can get of it, always helps the right type of player."

While Pearsall can take advantage of opportunities on the practice field, he will be the No. 3 wide receiver at best if Aiyuk returns to the team for the regular season. Though Deebo Samuel has a hybrid role, he's registered at least 56 receptions in three consecutive campaigns.

Tight end George Kittle and running back Christian McCaffrey also see a high number of targets relative to their respective positions.

San Francisco may also want to get rookie fourth-rounder Jacob Cowing involved in the passing offense, too.

Pearsall isn't an explosive playmaker; he's more of a chain-mover whose impact won't show in all the box scores unless one or two of the 49ers' top pass-catchers miss time.

Keep in mind that Shanahan operates a run-heavy offense. San Francisco has ranked 26th or lower in passing attempts for each of the last three seasons.

Stat prediction: 24 receptions, 283 yards, 1 touchdown

Xavier Legette, Carolina Panthers

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Among the Carolina Panthers' projected top-three receivers, only Adam Thielen has established an on-field rapport with quarterback Bryce Young.

Thielen will turn 34 in August. So, Young may not have tunnel vision for him in the passing game. The Panthers need to develop their dynamic playmakers.

Because Thielen has lined up mostly in the slot, Legette could start on the perimeter in Week 1 opposite Diontae Johnson, whom Carolina acquired from the Pittsburgh Steelers in March.

As a sixth-year veteran and high-volume pass-catcher, Johnson will probably lead the Panthers in most receiving categories in the upcoming campaign.

Legette, who's 6'3", 227 pounds with 4.39-second speed, can be a highlight playmaker if Carolina's offensive line allows Young enough time to throw from the pocket. The Panthers signal-caller took the second-most sacks (62) last season.

In his final year at South Carolina, Legette caught 71 passes for 1,255 yards and seven touchdowns.

With only one standout collegiate season, Legette may not be an instant contributor on the pro level, but he'll see enough targets to show flashes if Young makes strides in his second year under center.

Stat prediction: 44 receptions, 598 yards, 4 touchdowns

Keon Coleman, Buffalo Bills

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If Keon Coleman clicks with quarterback Josh Allen as well as he does with the camera during public appearances, he's going to be a star.

Though Coleman enters the league as a second-round pick, he will have plenty of opportunities to establish himself as the Buffalo Bills' No. 1 wide receiver.

The Bills traded Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans, which frees up about 150-plus targets in the aerial attack.

Buffalo signed wide receivers Curtis Samuel, Mack Hollins, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Chase Claypool in free agency. They have all been secondary or tertiary receiver options in recent years. Claypool hasn't been a notable contributor since his 2021 term with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

As a rookie last season, tight end Dalton Kincaid hauled in 73 passes for 673 yards and two touchdowns. Allen may look to him a lot more in the passing game, though Coleman could lead the team in targets as the top receiver on the depth chart.

Coleman is a 6'4", 215-pound possession receiver who can routinely win battles for contested catches and position himself to pluck passes out of the air in the end zone.

As a collegian at Michigan State and Florida State, Coleman didn't register more than 58 catches or 798 receiving yards in a single term.

However, the big-bodied wideout could see a spike in his production with a high target volume and a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback who has a big arm.

Stat prediction: 80 receptions, 1,016 yards, 10 touchdowns

Ladd McConkey, Los Angeles Chargers

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The Los Angeles Chargers cut Mike Williams and traded Keenan Allen, which will free up well over 200 targets in the upcoming season.

The Chargers will expect more out of 2023 first-round wideout Quentin Johnston, and Joshua Palmer has a connection with quarterback Justin Herbert.

Nonetheless, Ladd McConkey will have a chance to fill a huge void in the Chargers' aerial attack.

According to The Athletic's Daniel Popper, McConkey got off to a quick start with Herbert at OTAs.

"McConkey played both inside and outside Monday, but the majority of his snaps with the first-team offense came in the slot. On the second play of the first 11-on-11 period, McConkey beat rookie cornerback Tarheeb Still down the seam, and Herbert hit him for an explosive gain. Later in practice, Herbert connected with McConkey on back-to-back competitions — one on an over route and another on an out route from the slot. McConkey also beat cornerback Ja'Sir Taylor on a slant out of the slot in the second-to-last period for a third-down conversion."

On the college level, McConkey didn't play a big role in Georgia's offense. In his most productive term (2022), he hauled in 58 passes for 762 yards and seven touchdowns.

In 2023, McConkey missed time because of injuries, which is a concern with his slender 6'0", 185-pound frame.

Even with a wide-open receiver group, McConkey isn't likely to take over a game as a dominant pass-catcher. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman usually operates a run-heavy offense. All 10 of his offensive units have ranked ninth or higher in rushing attempts.

McConkey will be a reliable receiver in key moments, though his final 2024 season numbers won't wow anyone.

Stat prediction: 42 receptions, 537 yards, 2 touchdowns

Ja'Lynn Polk, New England Patriots

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The New England Patriots' new coaching staff has a lot to figure out with its offense, which may impact Ja'Lynn Polk's development.

Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt will be a full-time play-caller for the first time in his pro coaching career.

With the No. 3 overall pick, the Patriots drafted quarterback Drake Maye, and he'll jockey for position on the depth chart with Jacoby Brissett and Bailey Zappe.

If Brissett starts, Polk could benefit from the ninth-year veteran signal-caller's experience in terms of ball placement.

On the flip side, Brissett has been a game manager with modest passing numbers throughout his career.

With Maye under center, Polk's production will likely be inconsistent as the rookie goes through growing pains.

The Patriots have a mix of No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers that include K.J. Osborn, Kendrick Bourne, JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeMario Douglas. Rookie fourth-rounder Javon Baker will look to carve out a role in the passing game as well.

New England doesn't have a clear-cut primary receiver. So, Polk can establish himself in a lead role with a strong showing this offseason.

However, the Patriots' quarterback situation could limit his production ceiling.

Stat prediction: 50 receptions, 665 yards, 5 touchdowns

Adonai Mitchell, Indianapolis Colts

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The Indianapolis Colts took Adonai Mitchell with the No. 52 pick. General manager Chris Ballard lashed out against a report regarding character concerns about the rookie receiver.

Based on Mitchell's collegiate production and his physical profile—6'2", 205 pounds with 4.34-second speed—the Colts may have snagged a steal late in the second round.

In his final season at Texas, Mitchell played at the level of a fringe first-rounder, hauling in 55 passes for 845 yards and 11 touchdowns. Most importantly, he rarely dropped passes.

Because of his speed, Mitchell should be a solid complement to 6'4", 223-pound wideout Michael Pittman Jr.

Like Keon Coleman, Mitchell could be more productive on the pro level than in his college years, though he doesn't have a high-level quarterback who can elevate his receiving numbers.

Anthony Richardson has only started in four games, and he's coming off shoulder surgery.

At some point during the upcoming season, Mitchell could become the No. 2 option over Josh Downs and Alec Pierce in the passing attack, but his production will be tied to Richardson's development, which is uncertain.

Stat prediction: 37 receptions, 479 yards, 3 touchdowns

College football statistics are provided by cfbstats.com.

Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.

   

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